Tuesday, 12 November 2013

O’Farrell’s disgraceful attack on judicial independence

In one of the most serious attacks on the doctrine of separation of powers Premier O’Farrell, used his numbers to rush through parliament a motion to disallow 2.5% salary increase to the states judges awarded by the independent Remunerations Tribunal.

Cloaked under the guise of economic and fiscal principal this is clearly an attack on the states judges as petty payback. This decision was rushed through the parliament virtually without debate. I was prevented in making a contribution in quite a dishonest way.

Why the hurry? There is no doubt parliament is entitled to disallow an annual determination of the Remunerations Tribunal. If Premier O’Farrell thought that his decision had merit why not give MP’s time to consider the Tribunals report?

The judges of this state have been subjected to an unprecedented personal attack. The Attorney General instead of protecting the institution of the judiciary has been publishing his opinion that judges are out of touch.

There has been much said and written about the very sad and tragic death of Thomas Kelly and the sentence received by the offender. No words can ever restore to his family the loss of an innocent young man who had his whole life in front of him. The Attorney General requested the Director of Public Prosecutions consider an appeal against the sentence, and that is proper.

Even before the DPP considered the matter the Attorney General in a thought bubble announced yesterday a new law to provided for a 10 year sentence for a “one punch law” should someone be killed as a result of an assault. When 2GB’s Ray Hadley said that would have caused the offender responsible for Thomas Kelly’s death to get a lesser sentence than the offender received, the Attorney General today told parliament he is going to introduce his "one punch law" that will provide for a 20 year sentence. One might ask who is running this state?

The government and its members have been launching personal and unprecedented attacks against judges. The government have no respect for the independence of the judiciary, as they have no respect for the institution of parliament. To Premier O’Farrell the doctrine of separation of powers that is vital to our democracy is a political hindrance. 

To punish judges, or attempt to intimidate them, by rejecting the Remuneration Tribunal’s report, and not allowing even debate on the question is one of the must unfortunate things I have witnessed as a member of parliament.

I told parliament on the 1 May that we as MP’s are trustees of the Westminster Sydney. We are only here temporarily and we have an obligation to pass on the traditions and conventions to those who come after us.

I am afraid Premier O’Farrell just demonstrated to me today he is not fit to be the leader of a government.

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